Ryszard Czarnecki, who served as one of the parliament’s 14 vice presidents under Antonio Tajani, was relieved of his duties after he called Roza Thun, a rival parliamentarian from Poland’s liberal-conservative Civic Platform party, a “szmalcownik”.
‘Szmalcownik’ is a derogatory term, used to describe a Polish person who collaborated with the Nazis during German occupation in the Second World War.
The insult came after Ms Thun told a German broadcaster that Poland’s ruling PiS (Law and Justice) party, which has repeatedly locked horns with the EU, was moving the Eastern European country towards a dictatorship.
Speaking after his dismissal, Mr Czarnecki, who is a member of the PiS, said “I have been faithful to my views” in castigating lawmakers who complain about Poland abroad.
Josef Weidenholzer, the vice president of the parliament’s Socialists and Democrats group, said Czarnecki’s comment “went far beyond what is acceptable political discourse”.
Jo Leinen, an MEP from Germany’s Social Democrats tweeted: “Attacking other members with Nazi slogans is a no go.”
Yesterday’s vote was the first time the European Parliament has ever voted to dismiss a senior office holder and comes as Nazism returns to the news agenda in Poland.
Earlier this week, president Andrej Duda signed Poland’s controversial new Holocaust bill, which would make it illegal to accuse the nation of complicity in crimes committed by Nazi Germany, including the Holocaust.
It would also ban the use of terms such as “Polish death camps” in relation to Auschwitz and other such camps located in Nazi-occupied Poland.
Breaking this law is punishable by fine or a maximum jail sentence of three years.
The law has already received criticism from some of Poland’s international allies, including the Us, Israel and France.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the law “adversely affects freedom of speech and academic inquiry.”
In a statement, he said: “The United States reaffirms that terms like ‘Polish death camps’ are painful and misleading.
“Such historical inaccuracies affect Poland, our strong ally, and must be combated in ways that protect fundamental freedoms. We believe that open debate, scholarship, and education are the best means of countering misleading speech.
Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday it would continue to discuss the bill with Poland.
A spokesperson said: ”We hope that within allotted time until the court’s deliberations are concluded, we will manage to agree on changes and corrections.
“Israel and Poland hold a joint responsibility to research and preserve the history of the Holocaust.”